Licorice dominates especially in confectionery, but its use is much wider.
Did you know that it has extensive medicinal uses and that the ancient Egyptians used these properties?
Read our article and find out what other uses, apart from gummies, this herb has, what recipes to incorporate it into and what health benefits it can provide us!
What is licorice?
Licorice root is an ancient herb widely believed to have medicinal properties. It appears in historical documents all over the world, from early Chinese medicine to ancient Egypt.
Licorice is still used as an ingredient in the popular Middle Eastern drink erk-soos , which is said to soothe the stomach, and is re-emerging as a popular ingredient in teas due to its soothing properties.
Licorice root makes a great cooking ingredient with an elegant herbal flavor and notes of anise and fennel. Licorice works equally well in savory and sweet dishes.
A Brief History of Licorice
The licorice plant is a herb native to Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean, and is mentioned in the first Chinese herbarium. Licorice, one of the most important plants in Asia, has been used medicinally since ancient times to treat coughs, liver diseases and food poisoning.
Before that, it was the Egyptians, Assyrians and Greeks who were the first to take advantage of its therapeutic properties, while Dominican monks were the first to bring it to Europe.
Where does licorice grow?
Licorice is native to southern Europe and is mainly grown in the Mediterranean and parts of the United States.
The herb can grow up to 1 meter tall and has compound leaves with four to eight oval leaflets. Licorice bears clusters of blue flowers and produces flat pods that are 7 to 10 cm long.
The roots used are about 1 meter long and about 1 cm wide in diameter. They are soft, stringy and flexible and are colored bright yellow inside.
How is licorice made?
Licorice roots, which are harvested in autumn, are ground with a special grinder. Juice is extracted from the ground root, which is boiled and turned into a thick liquid.
Once the right consistency is achieved, the paste is poured into containers and then cut into the desired shapes.
Licorice can be bought as a raw root, in pure form, in powder, as a syrup, there are many varieties of licorice on the market and it has a very wide use not only in the food industry, but also in the kitchen, for example in the production of pastries or ice cream.
Licorice root is rare but can be found in specialty stores. Ground powder, blends, and teas are much more common and are often found in health food stores.
Health effects of licorice
If we are going to use licorice as a medicine, then its anti-inflammatory effects are essential, but it is also a good source of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B5, as well as vitamin E, and contains calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Other health benefits are listed below.
It helps with skin diseases
Licorice root contains more than 300 compounds, some of which have strong anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral effects.
Licorice root extract is used to treat various skin conditions, including acne and eczema.
It helps with digestive disorders
Licorice root extract is often used to relieve digestive problems such as acid reflux, upset stomach, and heartburn.
It helps in the treatment of peptic ulcers
Peptic ulcers are painful ulcers that form in the stomach, lower esophagus, or small intestine. They are usually caused by inflammation caused by bacteria.
Licorice root extract can help treat them.
It may have anti-cancer properties
Licorice root extract has been studied for its protective effects against some types of cancer due to its content of numerous plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Licorice extract has been linked to slowing or preventing cell growth in skin, breast, colon and rectal, and prostate cancers.
It can also help treat oral mouth ulcers, which people with cancer sometimes suffer from as a side effect of chemotherapy and radiation.
Relieves inflammation of the respiratory tract
Licorice root extract and tea can help with upper respiratory tract problems thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.
Some studies report that tea and licorice root extract can protect against strep throat and prevent sore throats after surgery.
What is licorice for?
- chewing the root helps with sore throats
- relieves cold symptoms
- relieves spasms and inflammation
- helps expel mucus from the lungs, cleans the bronchi
- gentle and natural laxative
- helps with heartburn and digestive problems
- helps in the treatment of stomach ulcers
- lowers blood cholesterol levels
- it is added to cough medicines
How to cook with licorice
|Hard and woody licorice roots release most of their flavor when soaked in hot liquid. So teas, syrups, sauces and puddings can be enhanced with licorice root by adding its root, heating it in the liquid, and then removing it before serving. Increase the flavor intensity by adding more roots or increasing the amount of time the roots are infused in these herbal tea recipes .|
|Licorice roots have an intense aroma and taste without the need to heat them. Like vanilla pods, they can be used to flavor sugar, and like dried juniper berries, they can be used to liven up savory marinades.|
|Licorice powder or licorice mixture can be added directly to recipes. Whether it’s a pinch mixed into a meat spread, mixed into a cake batter or a sweet pudding. It can also be added to flour to make our special Christmas cookies with anise or fresh pasta.|
|Its flavor is best combined with game such as pigeon, quail or in these holiday duck recipes , as well as with this pork shoulder on apples .|
|The bitter-herbal notes of juniper also go well with the licorice flavor, for example in a cod recipe.|
|In a sweet version, licorice goes well with something less bold, like an ice cream recipe or our Panna Cotta recipe .|
|Licorice also pairs well with other herbs such as ginger and mint, rhubarb and raspberries.|
|At the end of the feast, we can also serve licorice liqueur, which is prepared at home from powder, sugar, water and alcohol.|
What does the baton contain?
Glycyrrhizin (also called glycyrrhizic acid) is a chemical found in black licorice that gives candy its characteristic flavor.
It should be noted that many licorice-based foods do not contain actual licorice, but use a substitute flavoring called anise. Furthermore, most confections rarely contain licorice extract. Instead, they are infused with flavorings that lend their cherry or strawberry flavor.
Products that contain true licorice are usually labeled as such and list licorice extract or glycyrrhizic acid among the ingredients.